Kevan Harris

A photo of Kevan Harris
E-mail: Phone: 310-206-1247 Office: 284 Haines Hall

Professor Harris is a historical sociologist studying development, social policy, and political economy of the global South.

His first book, A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran, is forthcoming on University of California Press.



  • Ph.D. The Johns Hopkins University, Sociology, 2012
  • M.A. The Johns Hopkins University, Sociology
  • 2008 B.A. Northwestern UniversityEconomics & Political Science2001



  • Welfare politics in middle and low-income countries
  • Business-state relations in Iran
  • History of social policy in West Asia and North Africa
  • Occupational and social mobility in Iran before and after 1979


  • “Social Welfare Policies and the Dynamics of Elite and Popular Contention.” Pp. 70-100 in Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation, edited by Daniel Brumberg and Farideh Farhi. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2016.
  • “All the Sepah’s Men: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Theory and Practice.” Pp. 97-118 in Businessmen in Arms: How the Military and Other Armed Groups Profit in the MENA Region, edited by Elke Grawert and Zeinab Abul-Magd. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
  • “A Hidden Counter-Movement? Precarity, Politics, and Social Protection Before and Beyond the Neoliberal Era,” with Ben Scully. Theory & Society, Vol. 44, No. 5 (2015): 415-444.
  • “Notes on the Method of World-Systems Biography,” with Brendan McQuade. Journal of World- Systems Research, special issue edited by Kevan Harris and Brendan McQuade, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2015): 276-286.
  • “The Breakaway Boss: Semiperipheral Innovations and the Rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad.” Journal of World-Systems Research, special issue edited by Kevan Harris and Brendan McQuade, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2015): 417-447.
  • “World-Systems Analysis,” with Georgi Derluguian. In Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology, edited by Janeen Baxter, 2015.
  • “Did Inequality Breed the Arab Uprisings? Social Inequality in the Middle East from a World Perspective.” Pp. 87-111 in The Arab Revolution of 2011: A Comparative Perspective, edited by Saïd Amir Arjomand. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2015.
  • “The Rise of the Subcontractor State: Politics of Pseudo-Privatization in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (2013): 45-70.
  • “A Martyrs Welfare State and Its Contradictions: Regime Resilience and Limits through the Lens of Social Policy in Iran.” Pp. 61-80 in Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran, edited by Steven Heydemann and Reinoud Leenders. Stanford,
    CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.
  • “Recognize the Structural Crisis of the World-System: Immanuel Wallerstein in Conversation with Kevan Harris.” Pp. 169-185 in 22 Ideas to Fix the World: Conversations with the World’s Foremost Thinkers, edited by Piotr Dutkiewicz and Richard Sakwa. New York: NYU Press, 2013.
  • “Vectors of Iranian Capitalism: Privatization Politics in the Islamic Republic.” Pp. 211-243 in Business Politics in the Middle East, edited by Steffen Hertog, Giacomo Luciani, and Marc Valeri. London: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • “The Brokered Exuberance of the Middle Class: An Ethnographic Analysis of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement.” Mobilization: An International Journal, Vol. 17, No. 6 (2012): 435-55.
    (–Winner of the American Sociological Association Collective Behavior and Social Movements
    Section Outstanding Article Award–) Giovanni Arrighi interviewed by Kevan Harris. “‘At Some Point Something Has To Give’ – Declining U.S. Power, the Rise of China, and an Adam Smith for the Contemporary Left.” Journal of World- Systems Research Vol. 18, No. 2 (2012): 157-166.
  • “The Politics of Welfare After Revolution and War: The Imam Khomeini Relief Committee in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Pp. 134-150 in The Cup, The Gun and The Crescent: Social Welfare and Civil Unrest in Muslim Societies, edited by Sara Crabtree, Jonathan Parker, and Azlinda Azman. London: Whiting and Birch, 2012.
  • “Reorienting Iran: Following Gunder Frank’s Advice One Decade at a Time.” Pp. 196-210 in Andre Gunder Frank and Global Development: Visions, Remembrances, and Explorations, edited by Patrick Manning and Barry Gills. London: Routledge, 2011.
  • “Lineages of the Iranian Welfare State: Dual Institutionalism and Social Policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Social Policy & Administration, Vol. 44, No. 6 (2010): 727-45.
  • “A Tale of Two Nationalisms: Bringing Class Back In to Iran’s Green Movement” [in German]. Prokla, Vol. 40, No. 161 (2010): 635-45.
  • “Islam’s Land of Ideas.” New Left Review, II, No. 65 (Sept/Oct 2010): 151-60.
  • “The Evolution of the Commanding Heights of Capitalism: Venice – Holland – London – New York,” with Georgi Derluguian. Introduction to Russian translation of Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, pp. 6-30. Moscow: Territoria Buduschego, 2006.

Conference Presentations

  • The Iran Social Survey: Theoretical Orientations and Preliminary Results.” Paper presented at the Surveying Iran: The Future of Social Research After the Nuclear Thaw workshop, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, September 12, 2016.
  • Capital at the Margins: Logics of Investment Across Iran’s Private and SemiPublic Sectors.”  Paper presented at the 11th Biennial Iranian Studies Conference, University of Vienna, Austria, August 25, 2016.
  • “The Social Question in the Middle East: Past and Present.” Paper presented at The Social Question of Neoliberal Capitalism conference, UCLA, April 12, 2016.
  • Entrepots Unraveling: The Persian Gulf after the Great 2000s Commodity Supercycle.”  Paper presented at the Social Science History Association Meeting, Baltimore, MD, November 1215, 2015.
  • “Rapacious or Reciprocal? Chinese Investment and Trade in the Persian Gulf During the 2000s Commodity Supercycle.” Paper presented at the Capital, Labor and SouthSouth Development Conference, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, October 911, 2015.
  • “A Hidden Counter Movement? Precarity, Politics, and Social Protection before and beyond the Neoliberal Era.” Paper presented at the Southern Africa Beyond the West conference, Livingstone, Zambia, August 711, 2015.
  • “Partisans without Parties: A MovementCentered Analysis of Iran’s PostRevolutionary Politics.” Paper presented at the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies conference, Venice, Italy, January 1617, 2015. “Land Reform and the Longue Durée: Iranian Social Mobility from the Ground Up.” Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association meeting, Washington D.C., November 2225, 2014.
  • Do We Really Need Another Theory of the Iranian Revolution? Why 1979 Matters for Today.”  Paper to be presented at the Social Science History Association meeting, Toronto, Ontario, November 69, 2014.
  • Peasants into Iranians: Welfare Making as State Making in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Paper presented at the American Political Science Association meeting, Washington D.C., August 2831, 2014.
  • “Two, Three, Many Middle Classes: Theorizing Middle Class Power From a Global Perspective.” Paper presented at the International Sociological Association World Congress, Yokohama, Japan, July 1319, 2014.  
  • “The Middle and the Masses: Class Structure, Distinction, and Unrest in PostRevolutionary Iran.” Paper presented at the Social Science Research Council InterAsian Connections Workshop, Istanbul, Turkey, October 25, 2013. 
  • “Learning to Love the Baton: Police and Protest Dynamics in Middle East Uprisings.” Paper presented at the American Sociological Association, New York, August 1013, 2013. “ReInterpreting Islam and Nationalism in Iran.” Invited session panelist at the Middle East Studies Association meeting, Denver, CO, November 1722, 2012.
  • “Revis(it)ing Class Analysis: Class and Culture.” Invited session panelist at the Social Science History Association meeting, Vancouver, BC, November 14, 2012.
  • “The Precariat’s Challenge to Social Theory: Iran’s Income Grant as an Unlikely Case Study.” Invited paper presented at the American Sociological Association meeting, Denver, CO, August 1720, 2012.
  • “The Positional Puzzle of Uprisings and Revolutions in the Middle East: Regional Inequalities in WorldHistorical Perspective.” Paper presented at the International Sociology Association Forum, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 14, 2012.
  • “Grey Capitalism in the Islamic Republic: The Politics of Social Security Pension Funds in Iran.” Paper presented at the Eastern Sociological Society conference, New York, February 2326, 2012.
  • “Taking ‘the Social’ Seriously: Ethnographies of Power in Contemporary Iran.” Invited session panelistbat the Middle East Studies Association, Washington, D.C., December 2-4, 2011.
  • “Politics in a Martyrs Welfare State: Social Policy and Opposition Dynamics in the Islamic Republic ofIran.” Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association, Washington, D.C., December 2-4,2011.
  • “‘My Life Only For Iran’: Struggles Over State and Nation in the Green Movement.” Invited sessionpanelist at the American Sociological Association meeting, Las Vegas, NV, August 20-23, 2011.
  • “Does the Islamic Republic Rely on a Martyrs’ Welfare State? Regime Resilience and Limits Throughthe Lens of Social Policy in Iran.” Invited paper at the Authoritarian Governance and Civil Society Actors in Iran and Syria conference, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 17, 2011.
  • “Giovanni Arrighi’s Radical Rethinking of Social Theory for the Twenty-First Century.” Paper coauthored with Felipe Filomeno and Beverly Silver, presented at The Eighth Annual Social Theory Forum, University of Massachusetts at Boston, MA, April 13-14, 2011.
  • “A Martyrs’ Welfare State? Dual and Dueling Lineages of Social Policy in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Paper presented at the American Sociological Association meeting, Atlanta, GA, August 14-17, 2010.
  • “Welfare, Wealth, and the World System: Basic Needs Convergence and the Persistence of the Inequality Gap.” Paper co-authored with Astra Bonini, presented at the International Sociological Association World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 11-17, 2010.
  • “The End of Iran’s Revolutionary Social Compact? Informal Labor and the Politics of State Subsidies in the Islamic Republic.” Paper presented at the International Sociological Association World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 11-17, 2010.
  • “Pseudo-Privatization in the Islamic Republic: Cognitive Dissonance in Iran’s Liberalization.” Paper presented at the Gulf Research Meeting, Gulf Research Center, Cambridge, UK, July 8-10, 2010.
  • “Is the Islamic Republic of Iran a Rentier State, and Does it Matter? The Ubiquity and Uselessness of the Rentier Concept.” Paper presented at the Exeter Gulf Studies Conference, University of Exeter, UK, June 30-July 3, 2010.
  • “The Developmental State: Lodestar or Illusion?” Paper presented at the Reforming the Bretton Woods Institutions conference, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark, September 16-17, 2009.
  • “Crisis, Which Crisis? Bubble Capitalism over the Longue Durée.” Invited talk at the Bringing Political Economy Back In: The Crisis and Future Alternatives conference, Public Planning Institute,Moscow, Russia, September 11-12, 2009.